How to Be Kind to Yourself When You Don't Do What You Say You're Going to Do


Listen to this post here:We've all had the experience of making a commitment or agreement, then either not fulfilling it, backing out, or half-assing it. I know I have a couple of outstanding tasks on my to-do list right now that have been sitting there for weeks—emails not sent, interviews not completed, and so on—and it's nagging at me every single day.If we value integrity, not following through feels horrible because it demonstrates the opposite (unless, of course, you're dealing with something immoral/dangerous, which I'm assuming you're not). Doing what we say we're going to do when we say we're going to do it is one of the most basic forms of integrity, so when we don't fulfil this commitment, it can not only affect our relationships, but it also damages our trust in ourselves too.Facing up to unfulfilled commitments can be a painful process but, in the long-term, it's the kindest and most helpful thing we can do. Here are five ways you can be kind to yourself when you don't do what you say you're going to do:

1. Acknowledge why.

[Tweet "If we say we're going to do something, then don't, there's always a reason."]Part of responding in a kind way is to be curious with ourselves about what that reason could be. Questions to ask and answer as honestly and objectively as possible include:

  • How did you feel when thinking about this commitment or agreement?
  • What else was happening in your life?
  • What really got in the way of you meeting this commitment?
  • If this wasn't something you wanted, or had the time, to do, why did you make the agreement or commitment in the first place?

Approach these questions from a place of compassion, rather than criticism. While this isn't about giving yourself an easy pass, it is important to acknowledge the other factors that played into this situation.If you can't identify any obvious external factors, think about the feelings underneath your resistance or avoidance: did you notice feeling some fear or worry around the commitment? Did you feel out of your depth? Did you feel overwhelmed? Again, approach this exploration from a place of self-compassion. We all have our blind spots, and the more we can direct attention and compassion to them, the more likely we are to be aware of them in the future.


2. Decide how you'd like to make amends.

As I mentioned above, saying we're going to do something then not doing it is an integrity fail. In order to regain our self-trust, we need to make amends to ourselves, and to any other people involved. Making amends is not the same as apologising; it's about taking action. What action can you take to make amends in this situation?

3. Check whether what you said you were going to do is aligned with your values, priorities, and personality.

If not, then no wonder you didn't do it! Use this situation as an opportunity for deeper self-knowledge around your values (you can use the free Discover Your Values workbook in the Becoming Who You Are Library for this), short-term and long-term priorities, and your personality. Explore what makes you you, so you can make informed and conscious commitments that are aligned with these things, and decline those that aren't.

4. Adjust your boundaries.

Constantly expecting too much from ourselves then getting angry and/or frustrated with ourselves when we don't live up to those expectations is a form of self-sabotage. If you find yourself repeating this pattern, this is a chance to explore the underlying beliefs that are contributing to this cycle.Equally, finding yourself in this situation might indicate that you need to adjust your boundaries with other people too. Whether you make an agreement or commitment is your responsibility, no matter how persuasive other people are.

5. Prepare for what you'll do differently next time.

Every situation is a learning experience, and this is no different. When we find ourselves acting in a way that's out of integrity, we need to make sure this stays an irregular occurrence. Otherwise, we risk breaking trust with ourselves and, in the long-term, developing a self-concept that we're someone who acts out of integrity, which will be harder to come back from than a one-off incident.If something got in the way of you doing what you said you were going to do this time, what can you do differently in the future to make sure it doesn't happen again? Make your steps as clear and actionable as possible, and commit to starting them today.How are you kind to yourself when you don't do what you say you're going to do? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.Further reading: The one question you need to ask if you're struggling with change & are you avoiding pain or seeking growth? Image: Tom Butler